“That’s not who I am anymore”
So, you’re Fox… it’s 2009, and you’ve just released the critically panned X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a film that was built up to be sharp enough to rip through flesh and helicopter blades and even nuclear reactor smokestack walls but ultimately was destined to leave you feeling incredibly disappointingly dull… What next for Logan, the Adamantium staple in the X-Men series? Well, when the inventively named The Wolverine was announced amidst this now very confusing film adaptation universe that can’t seem to decide upon a direction to take its future (because, of course, if it fails to release a new instalment under the name the rights will revert back to Marvel/Disney – and with a cash cow like this they can’t afford that) and that flirts with the idea of reboots and solo spin-offs, I did indeed have high hopes by hearing positives early on like how we would see Logan travel to Japan (just like in the comics!) – I was convinced this was the right move at the right time. It should have been anyway… But it wasn’t.
Fox’s X-Men was delivered to us in 2000 under Bryan Singer who obviously cares for the series and characters in the same way JJ Abrams does with Star Trek. Soon after we were gifted the brilliant X-2 a sequel that boasted an epic story with more classic mutants than you could shake a stick at… and it included the GREATEST action/opening sequence of any film I have ever seen when Nightcrawler launches an attack on the White House… When I first saw this I can remember the 12-year-old me literally squeeing with awe. Then Singer left the series and we were left with a ‘Trilogy Concluder’ that upon first watch you think ‘yeah that was pretty good’ but then you realise they ruined everything and shot themselves in the foot by killing all the biggest characters off and shifting the focus of the entire series over to Phoenix and Wolverine’s love affair of sorts… a ‘love affair’ that is STILL blighting Logan’s existence 7-years after this release. In 2009 we got Origins Wolverine and as I’ve said, it was crap. Gambit was included and should have been used so much more (bias of course as he is my favourite along with Angel and Nightcrawler in the comics). After this mess I was sure we wouldn’t be seeing the mutants for some time, two critically panned films in a row after what was originally the best superhero films around. It came as a surprise then to find out the series was about to be rebooted – this was great news for a fresh start and even that cameo from Jackman worked in the context because of the time shift and his immortal presence. First Class for me is on a par with X-2 for sheer entertainment and such a great adaptation that gives background to both Magneto and Xavier. Soon Singer will return with a film he promises will ‘correct the wrongs from Last Stand‘ and mashes up the two time streams in a time travel epic based on Days of Future Past. For now however, we got to have a little extra in the form of The Wolverine and by George… I hope this is not a sign of things to come next year.
Where do I begin? This Japanese vacation of sorts seems set to create a great diversion from the main franchise but soon enough Logan proves once more to be a less than superhuman protagonist when taken out of the ensemble context. I would go as far as to say he is one of the very worst superheroes on the silver screen in this latest outing. He is constantly weak, shows no real progress or determination throughout and really just generally pisses me off. You know, in a superhero film you get that last fight where the villain (a thing the film severely lacks as Viper and Silver Samurai do not suit as main antagonists by any means) gets the upper hand before the Hero of the piece realises the power they hold and kick ass in a couple of scenes of epicness… Something that Raimi’s Spiderman did brilliantly, yeah, anyway, The Wolverine didn’t do this.
The whole film we keep getting flashbacks to Wolverine being given a sword as a gift for saving a Japanese soldier, this appears to be foreshadowing something great will happen, he will learn the ways to master his strength, become even more deadly perhaps? Nah, couldn’t be more wrong, even against Japan’s elite we get linear Wolverine with a sheer brute force attack that leaves a lot to be desired. No matter how often we are shown the scene of Logan being given a sword this means nothing in the end other than remembering to hold another sword (one dropped by Silver Samurai) with two hands to make it burn… ridiculous. No sense of learning, I wanted something to be learnt here. Something he can take back to the ensemble and really kick ass with to make him even more deadly rather than the clumsy wise cracking brute we know and love. I found it hard to love him in The Wolverine at all and I think that maybe half way through making it the team realised ‘oh no… we’ve fucked up again haven’t we’ and left the last bit of dignity they had in the bar from the start and decided to get Hugh Jackman to do the large majority of the film pointlessly topless. At least they will get a large female audience who will appreciate his ‘pecks’ because let’s be honest… I don’t think anyone who calls themself a fan could really call this a ‘great’ superhero film.
All that said, Jackman works with the script and offers a deft performance in the role he has now played 6 (soon to be 7) times. It really lacked mutants and any real sense of caring for the characters involved. It came to the point when I didn’t even care of Wolverine himself lived or died… and don’t get me started about his claws… What a fucking waste of a scene that could have been done so much better… Hopefully Singer works fast enough to ‘correct’ this mistake too.
The changes made to the original comic series this film was based on were pretty stupid and left a lot to be desired, turning what could have been a well told background for Wolverine into a summer blockbuster that fulfils none of the real fan’s wants or needs. The Wolverine offers nothing in the way of thrill or suspense and despite the ridiculous plot development at the end with the claws it was done too much by the book.
I stayed for the added extra post-credits of course… And the whole film for me has now become a prelude for this moment. 40 seconds of Logan, Magneto and Charles in an Airport leading into Days of Future Past last year made everything almost worth it with Trask subtly mentioned on TV monitors and the three characters eying each other up in what appears to be a promise for much brighter things to come indeed.